City debates high cost of dealing with possible leaks in sewer lines


Jan. 8, 2011 at 10 p.m.
Updated Jan. 10, 2011 at 7:11 p.m.

Residents in an east Victoria neighborhood are being asked to fix broken sewer lines on their property before the city checks its own lines for breaks.

Council Member Gabriel Soliz, whose district includes the Mayfair Terrace II subdivision, said he will conduct a town hall meeting later this month to explain things to the residents.

He said it would cost about $225,000 for the city to inspect its sewer lines in the subdivision. That doesn't include the cost of any repairs.

Soliz said other council members are hesitant to spend that much money.

"So, before we can move forward with paying for this, I have to get together with the citizens and get 80-percent acceptance from the residents that they would pay for fixing their side of the line," he said.

Soliz's request for the city to inspect its sewer lines came after he received reports from the neighborhood of flooding twice last year. He said residents told him the floodwater was contaminated with sewage.

He also quoted the residents as saying the problem started about three years ago and has been getting worse. Soliz said three years ago is about the time the streets there were resurfaced and when the city built the nearby Swan Crossing subdivision.

Public Works Director Lynn Short has blamed the problem on the torrential rains Victoria had last year.

He said when the subdivision was built, the storm sewer standards were not as stringent as they are today. He also said the required elevation for houses above the street was lower then.

Short said the city's sewer system could have cracks or holes that allow the sewage to leak out. But he said private sewer lines could also be a problem if people have gutter drains tied into them or if the clean-outs are missing caps.

Council Member Tom Halepaska said the value of the homes affected by the flooding versus the cost of the inspection leaves him in a quandary.

"At what point do you say something isn't worth it?" he asked. "I don't know that answer."

Halepaska said as he recalls, only three houses were flooded and there are other areas of the city with similar problems. He questioned whether there is a way to ease the problem without having to spend so much money.

"It's not that I'm uncaring about these people's concerns," he said. "I'm just not sure I have an answer for them."

Soliz said the city should be inspecting its sewer lines anyway to keep from contaminating the environment and creating a health problem. He said it doesn't matter if the residents also have problems on their property.

"If there's a break, the value of that home needs to be assessed with that taken into consideration," he said. "You've got to give them a reason the value of their homes keeps rising even though they keep getting flooded."

Corrected Jan. 11, 2011

Mayfair Terrace II subdivision was misidentified in a map on Page B1 on Sunday, Jan. 9.



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